As a kitchen designer, quartz has been my long time favorite choice for kitchen counter tops. The reasons include durability, ease of maintenance and all the available choices for color and visual texture. Cosentino, maker of Silestone as well as other new counter top products, is the world’s largest manufacturer of natural quartz. Read more
Marcello Becchi sports two full sleeve tats acquired in the South Pacific but more importantly he knows all about engineered stone and LEED certification. Let me “splain”, as Ricky Ricardo would say. I had the pleasure of hearing Marcello speak at Ceramic Matrix in Delray Beach at an NKBA Chapter event last week. Marcello, of the Trend Group USA is a scholar and lecturer within the building materials industry.
Trend is a manufacturer of all types of mosaic tiles with an emphasis on being Green. One type of material they manufacture is referred to as engineered stone. What is that, you ask? It is any material, used mostly for counter tops, floors and walls comprised of an agglomerate of crushed up glass, granite or quartz with a resin to hold it all together. Marcello has a reverence for the original engineered stone, terrazzo (flashback to childhood home before floor was covered with green carpet). Terrazzo is simply a mixture of cement and glass, marble, granite etc.
The most common type of engineered stone that you would recognize today are quartz materials such as Silestone and Caesarstone. We all know how indestructible these surfaces are to work on but that is just one advantage. As we deplete the world’s natural resources we need to pay attention to methods and products that minimize the impact on our environment. Engineered stone does that and here’s how: Typically only three out of ten slabs of granite are useable, however, the other seven “imperfect” slabs can be used to create engineered stone! Making a “green” decision often seems to be a more costly option but “green” choices are typically longer lasting and more durable. As Marcello says, “whatever costs more in the beginning costs least in the end.”
Ceramic Matrix is a wonderland of tile, full of custom unique tile treasures composed of glass, porcelain, marble,ceramics and whatever else anyone has thought to embed in tile. If you don’t live in Delray, don’t worry. There are six Ceramic Matrix showrooms in Florida. (If you don’t live in Florida you can go ahead and worry.)
Showroom Tile Diva, Susan Serino, solemnly promises they will work with your budget. “There are ways to incorporate the affordable with a touch of bling for impact. “It’s not about a focal point”, she says, it’s about everything working together as an incredible whole.” One thing you can do if you don’t want to leave a “hole” in your pocket, is save the exotic expensive tiles to use sparingly as accents. This is a great example of less equals more in your wallet!
I’m finally feeling better, thank you, after being laid low by a vicious virus last week. You know the one, right? I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say, while I was out going viral (and not in the way I would wish) here’s what’s been happening far and wide.
Delta Faucet Company unveiled its flagship DREAM2O(SM) showroom, located in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, during a private grand opening event on Thursday, May 5. (You’ll remember my amazing experience with them last year in New York. If not, click here for a flashback.) The new 3,097 square-foot design center is a hands-on, interactive environment where architects, designers, and homeowners can experience more than 90 fully-functioning faucets and fixtures from the Delta® and Brizo® brands. What makes this showroom unique is not only the fact that it is the first and only showroom of its kind, but also the innovative displays which are just a perfect way to showcase their cutting-edge products. Read more about it here.
If you’re in NYC this weekend you can visit the International Contemporary Furniture Fair or ICFF held at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center through May 17th. Sink manufacturer extraordinaire, Blanco (another flashback here) is officially launching two new collections including the Silgranit II Truffle Sink and the Culina faucet.
Italian kitchen cabinet manufacturer Scavolini is introducing the new quartz surface Santa Margherita on May 16th from 6-9pm in their Soho gallery. If you’d like to attend contact Daniele Busca 212-209-0910 as this is an invitation only event.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the world of granite counter tops, today I’ll tell you everything I can think of about quartz engineered stone countertops. First of all I am biased, but for good reason. As far as durability and efficient functionality you can’t do better, seriously. Quartz is non-porous which means you don’t have to worry about stains or sealers. In fact since it doesn’t absorb it’s antibacterial by its very nature. You can also cut and place hot pots directly on quartz without concern. Quartz is one of the hardest, most abundant minerals found in nature.
These qualities are firmly in the “pro column”. If you want a countertop that is consistent and without streaks, movement and color variation it’s the top for you. You will know what every inch will look like, no need to examine slabs. This this will be another pro for you. However if you want a counter top that is truly unique with an organic feel and drama, then the consistency is a con for you. Another con is price. Quartz is at least as expensive as granite (depending on the granite) and frequently even more. It typically comes in 3/4″ or 1 1/4″ thick slabs.
There are many different brands on the market but they are all essentially the same thing which is approximately 93% natural quartz particles mixed with resins to hold it all together. So it is at least partly natural although it’s a man-made product. These countertops belong to the category referred to as “solid surface”. This means that the surface material runs all the way through unlike, for example, laminates. Corian is also a solid surface material but it can scratch and burn unlike quartz. Price varies little between brands but can vary according to color. If radon is a concern for you, quartz countertop manufacturers claim that testing shows their quartz counters to be low or free of radon gas. If you’ll remember, in my previous post, I explained that radon is a naturally occurring substance found in the earth and since quartz is a natural substance you’re not entirely out of the woods in that area. The most well known names in quartz countertops are Caesarstone, Silestone, and Zodiac. Cambria is an up and coming brand which I love for their color choices. Check our Local Resources guide on this website for suppliers in the Palm Beach County area.